Restaurant: Alexander’s Steakhouse [1, 2]
Location: 111 N Los Robles Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101. (626) 486-1111
Date: December 13, 2017
Rating: Asian fusion & some of the best steakhouse I’ve had
The Foodie Club had an amazing meal at Alexander’s a few months ago, and many think it is the best steakhouse in the city, so the Hedonists braves the most hideous traffic to cross town on a weeknight to try it also.
Here is the imposing entrance, right there next to the California Pizza Kitchen… lol.
From my cellar: NV Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Rosé. VM 92. Pale orange. High-pitched red berry, orange zest and jasmine aromas, with suave mineral and smoky lees notes adding complexity. Spicy and precise on the palate, showing very good punch to its strawberry and bitter cherry flavors. Opens up smoothly with air and picks up a bitter rhubarb quality that lingers onto the long, tightly focused finish. This bottling showed more brawny character than many past renditions of this cuvée, but with no lack of vivacity.
Amuse of some polenta like thing with uni and caviar.
The winter menu.
Ron brought: 2010 Louis Latour Corton-Charlemagne. BH 91-94. Here the nose is dominated by reduction and sulfur at present and is thus unreadable. What can be assessed is that there is good detail, power, size and weight to the concentrated and mineral-driven broad-shouldered flavors that possess excellent length on the bone dry and overtly austere finish. This should be a classic Latour Corton-Charlemagne in time.
agavin: very young and tight, took awhile to open
HAMACHI SHOTS 3.0. dashi / avocado / fresno / ponzu / negi / arare. Very bright flavors and mixed textures.
Ron brought: 2004 Sine Qua Non Into the Dark. VM 95. Bright violet. Pungent raspberry and cassis on the nose, picking up sexy floral and mineral character with air. Silky, sharply focused red fruit preserve flavors offer excellent thrust but possess an airy, pinot-like personality, gaining weight and sweetness on the close. The balance and finesse of this wine are spectacular: how can it carry 16.1% alcohol so effortlessly?
TARTARE OF BEEF. marrow cream / smoked carrot / bleu cheese powder. Solid tartar.
Trish brought: 1997 E. Guigal Côte-Rôtie La Turque. VM 92-95. Good red-ruby. Perfumed aromas of cassis, violet, lilac and brown spices. Lush and aromatic in the mouth; the combination of a bit more acidity than the Mouline and its mineral and gunflint elements gives this wine noteworthy elegance and firm shape. Tannins are quite fine.
agavin: unfortunately a corked bottle
FOIE PB&J. foie torchon / peanut butter / onion jam / grape baguette. Solid, but not nearly as good as the Foie implementation last time we came.
From my cellar: 1990 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron. Parker 98. The 1990 Pichon-Longueville Baron has always been one of my benchmark wines, one that never ceases to perform. Now at 27 years of age, it is clearly at its peak, and what a wondrous thing it is. Now showing some bricking on the rim, the bouquet is utterly sublime, with red berries, cedar, touches of graphite, crushed rose petals and incense. You just want to become enveloped by these aromas. The palate is perfectly balanced, perhaps not as structured as it once showed since the tannins have mellowed, but what you get is a Pauillac relishing its secondary phase, which is almost Burgundy-like in terms of mouthfeel. Suffused with tension, it gains weight in the mouth toward the slightly tart finish. It is a Pichon Baron that only knows how to give sophisticated drinking pleasure. I once wrote that Pichon Baron is better than many 1990 First Growth, and that is a statement I have no reason to change. Tasted April 2017.
YUBA WRAPPED PORK BELLY. shiso mustard / lemon-eucalyptus curd / pickled shallots. Interesting texture and quite nice, although I may have liked the previous time’s version of pork belly.
UNI TOAST. brioche / pork shoulder / five spice. Again they changed up a staple item, having brioche instead of egg this time.
ICEBERG SALAD. sweet sesame / bok choy / soft boiled egg / five spice / radish. Very asian variant, heavily dressed. It was nice but I prefer a really good traditional with the blue cheese and bacon.
The bread was amazing. The dark one was squid ink, then there was a cheese and a milk bread. Problem is they brought it in time for dessert!
Plus some fabulous butters, Strauss Creamery butter, bone marrow butter with honey, and a rendered beef tallow!
Arnie brought: 2004 Sloan. VM 94+. Bright, saturated ruby. Knockout nose combines black raspberry, dark plum, black cherry, violet, minerals, spices, soy sauce and brown spices. Lush, broad and rich, with a superripe blackberry flavor that remains this side of jammy. Thanks to its finesse of texture and juiciness, this ultimately comes across as less sweet and more classic than the superb 2002. Finishes with wonderfully suave, broad, building tannins that coat the teeth. The wine’s cabernet franc component contributes lift and spice on the aftertaste. This needs, and should reward, six to eight years of cellar time.
CRISPY PATA. pork shank / achara / vinegar soy / creamed taro. A whole crazy pig leg deep fried. Super crispy and succulent inside. Yum! Filipino style!
Yarom or Larry brought: 2003 Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon RBS Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard. VM 90+. Good ruby-red. Highly floral aromas of blueberry, licorice, menthol and violet. Sweet black raspberry and blackberry flavors are firmed by a slight edge of acidity and lifted by floral and mineral nuances. Still a bit youthfully tart on the finish and in need of bottle aging.
BONE-IN NEW YORK 18OZ. grilled meyer lemon / chive butter / chives. Pretty gamey.
Yarom or Larry brought: 2005 Schrader Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon Beckstoffer To-Kalon Vineyard. VM 96 points. Decanted about an hour. Served with grilled steaks. In a really good place now. Aromas of cherry, blackberry, currant, rose petals. Similar flavors leading to a long smooth finish. The tannins are silky smooth. Really well balanced. Starting to show some secondary character.
AURORA ANGUS RIBEYE CHOP 20OZ. illinois raised prime black angus / grilled lemon. Very “gristly”. Good flavor, but not tender.
BLUE LAKE BEANS. flash fried / garlic / sansyo. Awesome beans, like Szechuan green beans, but no pork. Reduced soy.
MACARONI AND CHEESE. five cheese mornay / truffle panko. One changed dish that was better than the previous version. Pretty normal Mac & Cheese, but very good.
KING CRAB FRIED RICE. lap xuong / egg white / chive. Really great fried rice last time and just “nice” this time, maybe a little under cooked.
Amuse of leechee ice. Very tasty.
GUAVA CHEESECAKE. tempura fried cheesecake / orange granita / candied shiso / guava sorbet. Kinda weird.
RED VELVET MINT. red velvet brownie / cranberry / mint cream cheese frosting / red velvet ice cream. Disappointing, very weak mint flavors.
Overall, a solid meal, but no where near as good as our previous visit. Many of the food items had the same protein/spot on menu but changed, and almost all for the worse. Things also just weren’t as on point and the steaks (probably we ordered poorly) were gamey (which was fine) but a bit tough.
Service was very friendly, but no where near as good as last time and they had significant pacing issues. The server was super nice, but maybe had too many tables and he couldn’t come by enough. We also had a very long gap between dishes for the first half of the meal. In their defense they had asked if we wanted it slow, but I had only meant one dish at a time, not 30 minutes between each. This was rectified. They also forgot some of the extras like the bread (until near the end), petite fours, etc.
Food was good, but it just didn’t blow us away this time. Maybe there was a different kitchen lead on duty?
Wines were great. Only major flaw was the corked Lala. A too many giant Napas too for my taste although they were great wines.